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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"We are not a conquered people" : expressions of resistance, resurgence, and reclamation through electric pow wow West, Deavyn Marie Cabernet


This thesis examines the work of Indigenous DJ collective A Tribe Called Red, namely their reimagining of the contemporary pow wow. Dubbed “Electric Pow Wow,” the event showcases urban Indigenous culture, centered around music that layers elements of hip hop and electronic dance music with samples of First Nations vocals and drumming. Born out of the “Indigenous music renaissance,” A Tribe Called Red stands among a new generation of artists who are working alongside resistance movements like Idle No More in order to push back against colonial narratives of erasure and illuminate the voices of Indigenous communities the world over. Prioritizing contemporary Indigenous perspectives, this study seeks to engage with core themes of identity, community, representation, and decolonization, and discusses the essential role of musicians and culture-bearers within these spheres. Through an examination of A Tribe Called Red’s live shows, music videos, and social/political presence, I investigate Electric Pow Wow as both a physical and virtual gathering place where Indigenous identities are reclaimed, articulated, strengthened, and celebrated within broader movements of decolonization in North America and around the globe.

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